An amateur golfer is not permitted to accept expenses (e.g. free travel or hotel accommodation) to take part in a golf competition, except in certain limited and controlled circumstances (see Rule 4-2). One of those exceptions involves Sponsored Handicap Competitions.
Rule 4-2g (Sponsored Handicap Competitions) permits an amateur golfer to accept expenses, not exceeding those actually incurred, to take part in an individual or team handicap event, provided the event has received the necessary annual approval. The event must have a sponsor who financially supports the event for charitable or promotional reasons.
The organiser or sponsor must obtain the approval of the event in advance from the governing body in the country where the qualifying events are to be played.
It is a matter for each governing body to decide whether or not a particular event qualifies for approval under Rule 4-2g: the governing body has considerable discretion in this respect. However, there are certain basic requirements, as set by The R&A's Amateur Status Committee, which must be met. Those basic requirements can be found in the Guidelines.
All events approved under Rule 4-2g should be given a reference number, which should be included on all event advertising literature and entry forms. E.g. “Approved for the payment of expenses - Rule 4-2g RA/01/2014 Note: The R&A grants approval for the payment of expenses only in terms of the Rules of Amateur status and such approval should not be considered as any general approval or endorsement of the competition or its organisers and/or promoters.”
Events Commencing in Great Britain and Ireland
For events commencing in Great Britain and Ireland, the organiser or sponsor of an event seeking approval for the payment of expenses must complete the application form available on the right hand side and return it to the Rules Department of The R&A. A list of events in Great Britain and Ireland that have been approved for the payment of expenses can be viewed here.
Events Commencing outside Great Britain and Ireland
With regard to events commencing outside Great Britain and Ireland, applicants must contact the governing body in the country where the competition commences.